Summer Champions: Jeff Roth
By Kelly Hill
J.R. Roth wants to leave a legacy, and according to the Flint Golf Club pro who won this year's Michigan Open in a playoff, any good legacy is comprised of three elements: longevity, consistency and excellence.
Roth, 40, who has been a pro at Flint Golf Club for 10 years, has unarguably achieved two of those three elements. He is hoping that his Open victory on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort will help complete his legacy.
Having played in his first Michigan Open when he was 16 years old, Roth has achieved longevity. He has missed a few state opens since his first at Bedford Valley, but his name can usually be found in the field. His name also can usually be found on the leaderboard. His victory in this year's Michigan Open marked the seventh consecutive year in which he finished among the tournament's top five players. Roth has achieved consistency.
Roth has staked several claims to excellence, but his Open victory was his first such claim in Michigan. He ranks that Open victory third on his list of significant accomplishments in his career. Atop that list is the National Club Pro Championship which Roth won in 1993. Second on that list is the 1996 PGA Cup victory at Gleneagles in Scotland.
"One of my goals is to be recognized in the state as one of the best players ever," Roth said. "To do that you have to accomplish certain things, and one of those is winning the Michigan Open. You have to have longevity, consistency and performance," Roth said. "The longevity part is already there." The consistency also is already there.
Now Roth is working on the excellence of his performance. His next opportunity is the Michigan PGA Championship played at the Country Club of Boyne in Harbor Springs. "Winning the Michigan PGA definitely is No. 1 on my list of priorities right now," Roth said.
Roth also noted one other element that is critical to the playing success of any club pro. "I've got a great staff here that lets me leave for 6-8 days at a time," Roth said. "My family also is behind me all the time. That support system is a very important ingredient of being able to go to an event and feel comfortable quickly." Harry Barrett is Roth's first assistant at Flint Golf Club. Brad Maybank handles outside operations and Kerri Banyaf handles pro shop merchandising. Roth and his wife of 10 years, Maureen, have four children: Jeff 8, Justin 7, Michelle 4 and Megan 2.
Roth finished the 72 holes of the Michigan Open with a 5-under 283 (72-72-74-65-283), tied for the lead with 1997 champion Scott Hebert of Grand Traverse Resort and John DalCorobbo, a teaching pro at MSU's Forest Akers Golf Club in East Lansing. Roth won the sudden-death playoff with a birdie on the second hole, the par-3 17th on The Bear.
In Roth's bag:
LONG IRONS: Big Bertha (2-4)
SHORT IRONS: Titleist (5-9)
WEDGES: Snake Eye (10-12)
PUTTER: Bobbie Grace (5 years old)
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